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Union Grove

As published in "The History of Racine and Kenosha Counties" (Chicago: 1879), pages 477-482

Union Grove, a pleasant and prosperous village, numbering, full 600 inhabitants, was first settled, in early days, by Mr. Dunham, who came from the East, charged full with enterprise and energy and began the building up of the village, which now regards him as its founder. He located on the northeast corner of Main street, where he subsequently built the first frame house erected in the vicinity, which remained intact, until the advent of the railroad in 1856, when he sold out to Mr. P. P. Faber. That gentleman was the second settler in Union Grove; and building an addition to the premises, purchased of Mr. Dunham, became the first storekeeper. William H. Reid followed Mr. Dunham into the wilderness, and therein built the second house. In after years, he changed it into a store and post office, and dealt out groceries and mail, as demanded. The third house, in that portion of the county, was erected by John Roche, a portion of which was used by that worthy as a shoemaker's shop, in which he can be found to-day.

The first death to occur in the village was that of Miss Nancy, daughter of Gideon Morey,, which took place November 15, 1846, she being, at that time, twenty years of age.

The next most important event was the birth of Mr. Fred Cadwell -- now a carpenter in Utah-which occurred on July 1, 1857.

After the opening of the railroad, in 1856, it was considered desirable to "lay out" the village in lots, and for that purpose a meeting was held, and an association formed, consisting of Dr. A. P. Adams, President; Mr. James Russell, Vice President; Gideon Morey, Secretary; S. H. Skewes, Treasurer and Agent; William H. Reed, Burr Beirs, William C. Bartlett, Jeheil H. Hitchcock, Champion S. Chase and Erasmus D. Cadwell; subsequently, James Russell (called Yankee Russell), Richard Goldsworthy, William Mildrum, John Edgoose and Homer Adams were added to it. On January 26, 1856, after the association was formed, a meeting was held, at which Mr. Homer Adams presided, "for the purpose of taking into consideration, plans for the purchase and improvement of certain lands, at present owned, conjointly, by Messrs. Harvey Durkee, of Kenosha, and the estate of Charles S. Wright, of Racine, deceased; said land being adjacent to Union Grove." On motion of William H. Reid, a Committee, consisting of Messrs. W. H. Reid, James Russell, Junior, and Burr, Beirs, was appointed to confer and consider upon some plan ~f procedure and report. Mr. James Russell, Jr., was appointed a committee of one to call upon the owners of the property, and obtain their lowest figures at which it could be purchased. At the same meeting, Messrs. James Russell, Jr., William H. Reid, William C. Bartlett, Richard Goldsworthy, Burr Beirs, Ammon P. Adams, Erasmus D. Cadwell, Gideon Morey and Jehlel H. Hitchcock were Commissioners to apply for a charter, open books and receive subscriptions. At a subsequent meeting, held on February 21, 1856, Mr. C. M. Sprague was requested to provide a plat of the village, and present the same to the Commissioners, for their acceptance or rejection. This was done, and, as in the mean time, the Commissioners had not been idle, an act was passed by the Legislature, of which Joshua Stark was Speaker, on March 18, 1856, by which the Union Grove Company, with a capital stock of $50,000, was incorporated. The province of the Company was to lay out the village into lots and blocks, with the necessary, streets and alleys, and to sell the lots so laid out to various bidders. Books were opened, and business commenced at once, by the purchase, by Mr. W. H. Reid, of the first lot on which he erected his frame store already spoken of. The town was laid out into six blocks, each of which contained ten lots, of various sizes, with the exception of Nos. 6 and 3, which contained twelve lots each. The village itself was never incorporated, the villagers seemingly being content with their primitive form of government.


There are, at the present time, in Union Grove, three religious edifices, viz. : The First Congregationalist, which was organized on September 8, 1844, by the Rev. C. C. Cadwell, as Moderator, at the schoolhouse, Mr. L. C. Northway being appointed Clerk. Of the twelve members who attended, six are still living. The Church secured the pastoral services of the Rev. Lorain Rood, who labored until November, 1845, the meetings being held alternately at Salisbury and White's Schoolhouses, in Paris, Kenosha County, and Union Grove. From that time up to June, 1850 several Pastors were called, and remained there for longer or shorter periods. At that time, the Church gave the Rev. Charles Boynton a unanimous "call," to which he responded, remaining until May 4, 1852, during which time the first church was built. The church edifice remained on its original site on the Burlington & Racine Road, various Pastors filling the pulpit until 1864, when it was removed to the northwest corner Grove and Park streets. In 1876, the Rev. J. B. Sharp became the incumbent, and it was during his pastorate that the new church, which stands on the site of the old one, was built. It was dedicated on February 18, 1878, by the Rev. J. Collie, of Delavan, and was completed, paid for and occupied inside of two years. It is a handsome building, of the material known as veneer, 40x6O feet, and will seat about four hundred persons. The living of which the Rev. James Chamberlain is the present incumbent, is worth, together with the rent of the handsome parsonage, $1,000. The present officers are Messrs. Benjamin Smith, John Sumpter and Dr. H. D. Adams, Trustees, and J. S. Blakey, Clerk. The members, on July 4,1878, numbered 148; but the total number, who have united with the Church since its organization, is 292. In addition to other property, it contains an exceedingly good cabinet organ, which cost $200.

The Methodist Episcopal Church edifice was built in 1861, though organized some time prior to that date, at which time the meetings were held in the old schoolhouse. It is a fine frame building, and cost, with the parsonage, $3,500. For the first two years, it was in "circuit;" but the pulpit was soon after filled, by the Rev. S. Lug, who came from England in 1863, and remained two years. The living, of which the Rev. J. J. Howard is the present incumbent, is worth $800 per year. There are now about eighty-five members, although the congregation numbers 250 persons. The organ -- a large pipe -- was purchased in Racine, and cost $350. The present officers are : Trustees, J. W. B. Crane, Joseph Motley, John Willmore, Thomas Whitley, N. M. Clarke, Charles Schofield, David Huron, O. L. Crabb and William Morey; Stewards, J. W B. Crane, John Martin, Jacob Dunkirk and George Willmore; Class Leader, Joseph Motley Sunday-school Superintendent, George Willmore.

The Danish Baptist Church was built in December, 1872, there being then thirty members. The Rev. Ole Jansen took charge, and remained until after Christmas. It is a very nice frame building, and will seat 150. The Trustees are Mars Petersen,J. Rasmussen, Jens Anderson, Peter Jesperson, Clerk. At the time of writing, the congregation had no regular Pastor, the. Rev. Lars Petersen and the Rev. Welse Jorgeson filling the pulpit by turns. Their organization now numbers forty-eight members.


Secret Societies are a prominent feature; of these, the most important are the Masons, who, in 1865, to the number of eight, banded themselves together under the Mastership of Alr. B. R. Clark, the Wardens being T. H. Carlyon and Garn Hulett. Their Lodge has increased wonderfully, and now numbers thirty-five members; their officers being Messrs. J. T.Asby, W. M.; D. Worrell, S. W.; A. H. Hulett, J. W.; O. L. Crabb, Secretary; J. H. Wendser, S. D.; and James Meyer, J. D. They own a very serviceable hall on Main street.

Next in importance are the Odd Fellows, whose Lodge, now numbering twenty-seven members, was organized June 8, 1875, with a membership of seven. Their first officers were: J. E. Dickson, N. G.; G. N. Wilson, V. G. Their present officers are: R. W..Smith, N. G.; James Bell, V. G.; J. T. Asby, Secretary. They meet in the Masonic Hall.

The temperance societies claim attention next. They consist of the Temple of Honor and the Good Templars. Both of these organizations are in a flourishing condition, and number sixty-five and forty-five members respectively. Of the former, Mr. Charles McEachron is the Worthy Chief, and Mr. A. P. Colby holds undivided authority over the latter.

The Manufacturing Interests are represented by a grist and flax mill. The former was erected in 1864-65, by Mr. James Jones, who subsequently, in 1872, failed, and the latter, in 1876, by the Lawrence family. The grist-mill was run by the former proprietor, Mr. Jones, until he failed, when Messrs. Box & Robertson, the present proprietors, took possession of it. It has a capacity of 400 bushels of corn and 150 bushels of wheat per day. The flax-mill was run by its projectors until they failed, when Mr. Sands purchased it, when, after some few changes, it passed into the hands of Messrs. Humphrey & Coleman, who ran it until one year ago, when it was destroyed by fire. It has since been purchased and rebuilt by Messrs. Peter Dunkirk & Co., who now run it to the extent of nine tons of tow per day. Business, however, probably owing to the smallness of the population in the vicinity, is not very good, for whatever work is done, is done well.

The Press, that Archimedean lever which moves the world, is well represented by the Union Grove Enterprise, an independent paper which was established in September, 1877, by Mr. A. P. Colby, the present proprietor, who is also the editor. It is a weekly, and has a circulation of about 500. It is well gotten up and is well received.

The Schools are prosperous. The first opened in the village was during 1861, Mr. C. J. White being the Principal. The school was maintained, meeting with a-varied, and, in some instances, discouraging experience until some months ago, when Mr. Maynard, the present Principal, took charge and worked it up to its present high standard of excellence and good attendance.

The village has suffered severely by fire within the past few years. In 1873, a hotel, two houses (the latter owned by Mr. William Emmett) and some stock were burned, entailing a loss of about $4,000. The ruins were rebuilt, and for a long time the fire fiend slumbered, but in the month of May, of the present year, again devoted its energies to the destruction of this "little city of the pioneers "with a success as complete as it was discouraging. The buildings were severally the property of D. Wovall, Nicholas Weater and William Langley, became almost a total loss. But this calamity occasioned no disastrous effects. The buildings were rebuilt without delay, and the conflagration had the effect of inspiring the inhabitants to greater diligence than producing the discouragement that would ordinarily follow. The result is to be found in a village pleasant and prosperous, and if not promising extravagantly, the promise held out is sure of realization.

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